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Using Crowd Control in Cataclysm PvP

Posted Thu, Jan 20, 2011 by Cyrak

Crowd Control Basics

The use of crowd control is one of the most important and least understood concepts in World of Warcraft. The first thing you need to know about properly using your crowd control is that you’re nowhere without exceptional situational awareness. You’ve got to learn to recognize the visual and auditory signs that your opponents are prime for CC use.

The first thing to watch for is trinkets. The World of Warcraft PvP trinket is your lifeline and the lifeline of your opponents to avoid being locked down ad infinitum. Improperly using these items or forcing your opponents to do so is the basis of PvP CC. Unfortunately, while this may sound simple, this means that you need to know exactly what constitutes improper use versus pretty much every class or combination of classes. For the purposes of this guide we’ll look at ways to get the upper hand in general.

Monitoring and understanding your Crowd Control abilities is vital to PvP success.

Battleground CC

In non-rated battlegrounds you can assume a relatively low level of coordination both on the part of your opponents and your team. This means that trying to use crowd control perfectly is futile since your team mates will likely break it prematurely. If you’re a CC heavy class like a Mage or Warlock then an effective course of action will be to pretty much spam your CC rampantly. Spells like Polymorph and single target Fear are ideally used on healers (this is pretty much a universal concept) since they are reliable and healers are the only class that can remove your CC from others with any sort of reliability.

If you don’t happen to be a CC heavy class then in battlegrounds you’ll probably mostly use your CC to either secure kills or to save your own life.

Arena CC

Crowd Control in Arenas and, to a lesser extent, Rated BGs is a completely different story. The idea versus most teams will be to try to put a chain of CC on a healer that lasts long enough to land a kill. This is not as easy as it sounds for most compositions.

Teams like Mage, Warlock, Druid can secure a virtually never ending chain with polymorph, fear, and cyclone. Other teams have to try a bit harder. Throwing CC randomly at a healer won’t always be effective if you don’t have the offensive pressure to back it up. Your goal will be to coordinate your CC with burst damage on a target to create a situation where the other team is under a ton of pressure trying to survive. This type of pressure will cause teams to panic and blow their cooldowns and trinkets which will lead to more opportunities for you later on. If you can force most healing classes to blow their trinkets then you can wait for your CC to be off of diminishing returns then land a long chain that their healer will be unable to get out of, giving you the time that you need to kill someone else.

In the fast paced environment of Arenas a minor CC mishap can cost you the game.

Using CC on a healer is not always the solution! You will not always be the team in control. It’s vital to get a feel for when you are the team that’s under pressure and using CC to relieve that pressure. If your healer is CC’d or under fire then you are probably better off using your CC to peel damage off of your own team mates rather than DPS or CC their healer. In this situation the best type of CCs are ones that are difficult to remove. Melee abilities like Kidney Shot, Throwdown and Death Grip and some difficult-to-remove spell effects like Cyclone are ideal for situations like this. Fear and roots are also infuriatingly effective at peeling Melee who can have significant problems getting back on target when peeled.

There is no universally effective way to execute your CC, but there are some basic concepts you can follow, the most important of which is understanding how your CC interacts with the abilities of other classes.

Understanding Diminishing Returns

To avoid the problem of infinitely CCing other players, Blizzard added a system of diminishing returns to player vs. player CC. Crowd Control is divided into a myriad of categories: Stuns, Disorients, Silences, Controlled Roots, Uncontrolled Roots, Disarms, Fears, Horrors, and Un-DR’d CC like Cyclone and Snares.

When you use a CC that falls under one of those categories (other than the last one), any subsequent effect of the same type used in the next 20 seconds will be half as effective, then a quarter as effective, then will not work. What this means is that if a Warlock Fears a target 3 times in a row then a Rogue attempts to Blind them the Blind will not work at all and will be wasted. There are upwards of 70 unique CC effects so learning them all will take a long time. Start by learning about the abilities of your teammates so you can figure out which abilities you can chain for the greatest effects and know when not to use abilities so you don’t waste them.

Spammable CC Versus Cooldowns

As a general rule of thumb it is preferable to save long cooldown Crowd Control abilities for use on targets that don’t have trinkets or in situations where you can definitely force a trinket use to your advantage.

Long cooldown abilities need to be used effectively or they will be wasted. These include abilities like Hex, Blind, Psychic Horror, and post patch Strangulate. Throwing these 45s-2 minute cooldown abilities out randomly will give away critical advantages so they must be used thoughtfully.  Blind is the best example of an incredibly powerful ability that is often used wastefully by poor play. Blind is a ranged, undispellable CC that has the added benefit of lasting long enough to take a target out of combat which will allow a good Rogue to Vanish and Sap the target at the end of the Blind. Accordingly, good players are terrified of this ability and the potential for a devastating CC chain that it represents. This ability will almost always be trinketed if possible, and players will often try very hard not to use their trinket so that it will be available for it. Throwing it away in a situation where you aren’t able to secure a kill or using it at a point where there’s not even enough offensive pressure to force a trinket is an example of improper CC use.

The best abilities to use rampantly are the infamous spammable CC abilities like casted Fear and Polymorph. These abilities can be ‘rotated’ on the enemy players, a process in which you use 3 of them on one player until it is fully on DR then use it 3 times on another player, repeating this process while dealing damage to keep the enemy team in chaos. This is particularly effective for Warlocks whose fears are often very difficult and dangerous to dispel due to Unstable Affliction. There is very little downside to using your spammable CC abilities so rampantly unless you’re trying to use them on a target that is being chain dispelled.

Bullet Points:

  • Understand your CC’s Diminishing Returns
  • Force PvP Trinkets
  • Set up long CC chains on healers
  • Don’t waste your long cooldown CC
  • Know when to CC DPS
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